Challenge: Building on the wave of interest and anticipation from Windows 8 Consumer Preview, the PR team was tasked to deliver a high impact, broad-reaching publicity campaign to amplify the local Windows 8 story.
Windows 8 heralded a huge brand shift for Microsoft, of which the PR campaign needed to emulate. The approach needed focus on people not product, stories over messages and product engagement over sales in order to help audiences emotionally connect with the experience that Windows 8 offers.
Strategy: With an audience spread across the entire gamete of media – from technology to consumer lifestyle and everything in between, the PR team developed an educational approach that would deliver targeted information, purely relevant to each segment before culminating in the official launch event.
In September, a series of 10 one-on-one briefings were held with the most influential people across technology media in order to ensure a well-grounded level of knowledge and understanding of the Windows 8 story in the lead up to launch.
Following this, in October five consumer lifestyle mini-events were hosted at the Ivy Penthouse. The events saw the presence of 26 key media from Australia’s highest circulating consumer glossy magazines, providing these media with a first look and touch of the new operating system.
The third phase of activity offered our influencers the opportunity to ‘touch and try’ Windows 8 through the seeing 10 RTM Samsung Slate 7 devices.
Launch day kicked off early with three pieces of solid coverage across breakfast TV which highlighted the availability of Windows 8 and Surface in Australia. The PR team worked with key morning reporters to educate them on the new product features so they could speak as ‘experts’ on Windows 8.
The tone of the coverage was very positive, with many broadcast articles positioning the Windows 8 launch as Microsoft striking back against other tablet competitors – to quote Sunrise host Andrew O’Keefe commenting “The Empire strikes back,”. News of the availability and Harvey Norman’s Midnight Madness stunt echoed across the daily news cycle and wells as the availability of devices and the different SKUs available locally.
The Australian media event commenced at 9:30 AM and saw the attendance of over 110 media from an extensive array of consumer lifestyle, broadcast, news, consumer tech and more. Media guests included the likes of Channel 7, Channel 9, SBS World News, ABC Radio National, ABC News 24, 6PR, Better Homes and Gardens, Rolling Stone, Men’s Health, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph…etc.
Key results include:
- 1457 pieces of local coverage in the first 14 days post launch
- 246 hours of broadcast coverage
- 110+ media attended the launch event
Challenge: Student technology competitions, such as the Imagine Cup, have traditionally appealed to a narrow audience. Howorth was challenged with taking the Imagine Cup to the masses. Mainstream media coverage that told stories for the everyday Australian which generated conversations, and told the Microsoft innovation story around four key event milestones: the local finals, the Road to Sydney, the 2012 World Wide Finals, and the APAC BizSpark Entrepreneur Summit.
Strategy: Howorth focused on strategic storytelling across broadcast and key national print media. To ensure understanding of the key messages, we brought the story to life using the student’s journey and their projects to showcase the innovative solutions they have devised to solve real-world issues, and positioning the students as tomorrow’s Bill Gates or innovators.
Results: Results included high impact and broad stories on the Imagine Cup. Telling the Imagine Cup story through broadcast outlets and the student projects helped us showcase the global nature of the competition and brought media on the journey. Out of the 75 unique pieces of coverage for the World Wide Finals, 72 clips mentioned Microsoft and were in-line with corporate key messages for the competition.
Following several successful years of continuously great results, Howorth is the first agency to be named Microsoft’s Best PR Agency in Asia Pacific during Microsoft’s 2011 PR Strategy Summit in Singapore. Howorth won the award against stiff competition from 11 agencies across APAC.
Howorth works on strategy-lead projects across the breadth of Microsoft’s business groups including consumer, enterprise, education, small business and citizenship. Recent successful projects have showcased Microsoft products and services through major consumer product launches, integrated multimedia campaigns and leading edge social media activities.
Howorth works directly with Microsoft’s partners and customers to showcase how Microsoft technologies or involvement in Microsoft-led community programs help them ‘be what’s next’. Examples of partner and customer collaborations include the Lync launch, Dynamics CRM Online launch and Cloud Computing briefings.
Howorth develops media relations campaigns that achieve maximum impact and message cut-through, while positioning Microsoft as a major enabler of the technology ecosystem and as a leading corporate citizen. The launch of Windows Phone 7 into a market dominated by competitors is an example of a high-impact campaign that Howorth managed for Microsoft, which witnessed IT media touting the event as Microsoft’s ‘comeback into the smartphone market’.
Howorth and Microsoft have developed a long term relationship, which has led to a deep mutual understanding of Microsoft’s business. The staff at Howorth have kept a consistent and insightful team working closely with Microsoft’s business in Australia. The team reacts quickly to unforeseen issues and last minute developments, using their knowledge of the business to mobilise and craft solutions to whatever event, launch, issue, media or social media enquiry has arisen.
Howorth has announced two new hires with Heather Jacobs joining in the newly created role of editorial specialist and Jessica Smart joining as a senior consultant.
Graham White, managing director of Howorth, said: “These two hires are necessary due to the continued growth of the business, following another record year in 2010. The role of editorial specialist is a new one and addresses the broader range of writing and content opportunities we are now seeing in briefs. We’re delighted to have both Heather and Jess on board.”
Jacobs has spent the past 16 years working as a journalist, specialising in writing about the media, marketing and advertising industries. Most recently, she spent four years as deputy editor on Campaign Brief and prior to this was editor of B&T. Previous roles include editor of Adbrief, senior reporter on New York-based Shoot Magazine, features editor on B&T and media reporter on Ad News. Jacobs previously worked in PR at Marcom, Vietnam, on clients including Cathay Pacific, LG, Unilever and Hewlett Packard. In her new role she will work on creative content for Howorth’s clients and across the Ogilvy PR group.
Smart joins Howorth from the UK where she spent the past three years at Weber Shandwick in London. She was an integral member of Microsoft’s pan-EMEA account team working on raising the profile of the company across Europe, Middle East and Africa. Prior to Weber Shandwick she was a junior account executive at Hill & Knowlton London working on clients including Yahoo! and Sony. At Howorth she will be working across Microsoft and Intel campaigns.
Howorth has received an Honourable Mention at the 2010 Platinum PR Awards. The award is for Microsoft Australia Windows 7 Launch: “Windows 7 Was My Idea”, in the product launch category. Following the lukewarm response from business users, technology influencers and the general public in Australia toward Microsoft’s Windows Vista in 2006, Howorth was engaged in May 2009 to generate buzz and build excitement for the upcoming launch of Windows 7 in October 2009 in Australia. Howorth’s tactics included negotiating for Windows 7 Review Code to be cover mounted on five of Australia’s top ranking PC magazines to build buzz among technology influencers in the lead-up to launch.
The Platinum PR Awards provide PR professionals the opportunity to showcase their best communications initiatives of the year and salute outstanding performance by individuals. Presented by PR News, the highly competitive program honours the best PR campaigns and smartest communications initiatives of the year.
Congratulations to the team involved.
Hot on the heels of the PRIA NSW award for the Telstra Productivity Indicator campaign, Howorth won the coveted worldwide WPP Public Relations WPPed Cream Crème de la Crème award, for the same campaign. According to Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO WPP: “Every year WPP companies succeed in producing the exceptional with greater and greater consistency: and that, to me, is the real test of professional excellence. The one-off masterpiece is to be welcomed and rewarded – but permanently high standards deserve our highest praise.”
Marcia Silverman, the public relations jury chairman, said: “The competition has grown tremendously as we enter the fourth year of the WPPED Cream awards. The entries, which came in from all over the world, were of the highest calibre of work. This year we had an astounding 28 submissions for consideration from more than ten different agencies in the Public Relations/Public Affairs categories of: business-to-business, consumer marketing, and corporate & public affairs. After careful consideration, I’m happy to announce that the PR Crème de la Crème winner for 2010 has been awarded to Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide/Howorth out of Sydney, Australia. Their superior efforts for the Telstra Corporation allowed their client to have a marked increase in sales while outperforming competitors. We all agreed that their efforts to innovate their clients reputation and business-to-business offerings merited this highest of distinctions.”
Given the competition for these awards, this is an outstanding achievement for Howorth.
And the news just gets better.
Yesterday, the shortlisted finalists for the PR Week awards Asia Pacific were announced, and Howorth is shortlisted for four awards. In total, Ogilvy Public Relations Australia has been shortlisted for 12 awards in 11 categories. The winners will be announced on Monday 22 November in Hong Kong.
The campaigns shortlisted are:
Category: Technology Campaign of the Year
Campaign: Citizen Mayors of Sydney Unite
Client: Microsoft Australia
Category: Best Use of Digital
Campaign: Citizen Mayors of Sydney Unite
Client: Microsoft Australia
Category: Business-to-Business Campaign of the Year
Campaign: TP12 Powerful PR addresses the productivity gap
Category: Product Brand Development Campaign of the Year
Campaign: Australia – Who do you think you really are?
Finally, Howorth will discover on October 5 whether it has won an award at the 2010 Platinum PR Awards. The nomination is for Howorth’s Microsoft Australia Windows 7 Launch: “Windows 7 Was My Idea”, in the product category.
To launch Microsoft Office 2010 in Australia, Microsoft is hosting the world’s first ‘Office Mayor Meetup’ via Foursquare at Martin Place next Tuesday!
So come on down. For your chance to win a copy of Microsoft Office 2010:
- Be a Foursquare Mayor of your office, business, home or school (or wherever you do your work!)
- Show up at Martin Place Amphitheatre area and look for the Microsoft Office 2010 signs
- Check in on Foursquare at the Office 2010 Mayor Meetup
- Leave a message when you check in saying why you want to win a copy of Office 2010
So if you’re a Mayor of your workplace, mark your calendars (Outlook, of course) and head down next Tuesday for the Office Mayor Meetup at Martin Place! Join in on the fun and don’t forget to follow the hashtag #OfficeMayor
Look forward to seeing you there.
There are few technology events that match the scale and prestige of Microsoft Australia’s ‘Tech.Ed’. Howorth/ Microsoft public relations team continued its proud collaboration in co-ordinating this event in 2009. It was a huge year with several key announcements coming from the software leader including:
- The largest Windows 7 test environment with 2,500 netbooks given out to conference attendees
- The Windows 7 commercial launch
- Microsoft Office 2010 technical preview
Key challenges in the public relations program included:
- Managing through a year of economic uncertainty and communicating the educational value of Tech.Ed to businesses during a time when justifying the release indispensable IT staff for three business days can be especially challenging.
- Complex logistical requirements :
- The travel and accommodation arrangements for 21 attending media
- Ensuring that media had access to the spokespeople they required to tell the best stories
The Howorth/ Microsoft public relations team spent many long hours ensuring the event went off without a hitch. Aside from standard media relations Howorth assisted in a number of key areas:
- Analyst relations
- Blogger outreach
- Social media monitoring
Despite the challenges, the joint team delivered a successful event that exceeded expectations of internal and external stakeholders and media.
Sydney was abuzz during Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s November 2008 visit and Howorth harnessed the excitement to secure extensive traditional and digital media coverage. The PR outreach served to bolster Microsoft’s presence in the Australian online media and underline its position as a technology visionary.
Ballmer was exclusively interviewed by Lateline Business and AFR BOSS magazine; appeared at Telstra’s Investor Day following a partnership announcement by Microsoft and Telstra; and spoke at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) luncheon.
A highlight was Microsoft Australia’s ‘Liberation Day’ developer event. More than 800 developers and 16 members of the media (including bloggers) flocked to the Sydney Convention Centre to hear Ballmer speak on cloud computing and Windows 7, with bloggers and Twitter enthusiasts filing directly from the auditorium.
Journalists unable to attend watched a live Webstream. Howorth also managed press interviews for Gianpaolo Carraro, Senior Director, Microsoft Corporation and Tim Sneath, Director, Microsoft Corporation.
This event alone resulted in more than 25 pieces of coverage in publications including The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, PC Authority, iTnews, iTWire, PC Authority and Sky Business News. In total, Ballmer’s two-day visit generated more than 60 pieces of coverage for Microsoft, the majority of which appeared online.
To launch Microsoft’s Windows Vista, Howorth developed a series of unique Australia Day stunts entitled ‘Look up and smile’, capturing the pride and beauty of our national day. The campaign was successfully integrated into celebrations Australia wide and helped Microsoft achieve enhanced community goodwill towards its brand through:
- support from each of the State Premiers in their Australia Day speeches
- intensive media coverage that reached more than 19 million Australians.
Coverage featured 130 stories and included radio news; talkback radio, TV news, print media, including the front page of The West Australian and online news.
Australians from all walks of life were encouraged to participate in one of many aerial photographs, or in specially created events across the country.
- Sydney-siders gathered at Centennial Park to create a massive multi-coloured map of Australia. This represented Australia’s unity in freedom and democracy, as well as the diversity of our many walks of life, religions and backgrounds
- At Kirra Beach on the Gold Coast, Australians were photographed creating an image of a red and yellow lifesaver’s cap, featuring nippers to granddads to honour 100 years of surf life saving in Australia
- In New Norcia, Western Australia, a massive 100m x 90m artwork was recreated from an image painted by three artists of the Indigenous Yuat people to reflect Australia’s unity and path towards reconciliation.
Campaign key steps
- Through close partnership with the National Australia Day Council of Australia, Howorth carefully positioned Microsoft – an ‘American’ company – so that it was not was seen to be taking over Australia’s national day
- Howorth encouraged Australians to help create three enormous artworks at large scale events in NSW, QLD and WA and participate in its aerial photography
- Howorth also worked with Microsoft to assist local committees, service clubs and other community organisations to participate by hosting their own Australia Day event. By taking their own photograph and uploading images and uploading their images to www.lookupandsmile.com.au, these groups were eligible to win $5,000.